The season 2016 — a retrospective view
by Jörn Selling
Fotos: Katharina Heyer, Jörn Selling, Sebastian Kanzler und Eduardo Montano Peralta
In 2016 Tarifa has shown its rough side. There were many days with the infamous wind “Levante”. Nevertheless we have hardly been in the bay of Gibraltar, where in autumn big shoals of flying fish gather. Off Tarifa we saw tuna and sea birds hunting flying fish and other small fish. Furthermore migrating storks and rare ships provided variety.
They became „uncommon „in the Mediterranean Sea, so we occasionally saw them in small groups or as part of groups of Striped Dolphins.
Striped Dolphins can sometimes be observed in their hundreds and they move in big groups through the Strait of Gibraltar, in which there is always something to see.
Of all dolphins the Bottlenose dolphins are the most acrobatic and especially in spring they are in a good mood, when they perform voluntary shows near the boat. At the same time they sometimes observe us.
are mostly swimming slowly and therefore seem very relaxed. They also like to surf like all other dolphins. While socializing they often integrate the Bottlenose Dolphins, with whom they get along well. To not many other species they are so nice, most of the time they drive them away, because they are very territorial.
Orcas are travelling in smaller groups; they come to the Strait of Gibraltar to hunt for tuna or to get their share from the fishermen.
2016 was an average year concerning Sperm Whale sightings. But in spite of this, there were a few groups with several animals.
Frequently other animals got curious, especially Pilot Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins, but also sea birds.
Most popular among the guests is the moment when the Sperm Whales descend.
This season we could observe some jumping Fin Whales.
In 100 years there had only been two confirmed observations of Humpback Whales in the Mediterranean Sea, but since 1990 the sightings of this whale species increase. This concurs with the recovery of the North Atlantic stocks, which are protected since the introduction of the whaling moratorium. In the area around Gibraltar we twice had the chance the see Humpback Whales: in Zahara de los Atunes a dead, young animal stranded, and in the port of Algeciras, in the Bay of Gibraltar, a female with her baby stayed for a couple of days. This season, a young Humpback Whale, who unfortunately was attacked by the Pilot Whales, came to the Strait of Gibraltar. Pilot Whales are very territorial and sometimes they even drive out the Orcas. Maybe in the future there will be more sightings of Humpback Whales. But probably they remain occasional visitors for a long time to come.
We wish everyone a good season 2017, both the whales as well as the observers.